Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

On 9 April, a group called Stand With Ukraine held a small demonstration in London. Despite receiving support from a number of trade unions, only a few hundred people took part. In true Orwellian fashion, this so-called anti-war solidarity demonstration was filled with hair-raising, warmongering rhetoric. Slogans included: “arm, arm, arm Ukraine!”, and participants were reportedly inviting NATO to “call Putin’s bluff”, i.e. to launch a full-blown military intervention and spark World War III.

This article was produced several months ago by our Italian comrades of Sinistra, Classe, Rivoluzione in response to a polemic by Francesco Ricci concerning the counter-revolutionary demonstration in Cuba last year, which he supported. Ricci’s organisation (the PDAC) inherits the tradition of Nahuel Moreno, a leader of the Argentine Trotskyist movement who historically swung back and forth between ultra leftism and opportunism.

102 years ago, British workers struck in solidarity with the Russian Revolution. Conditions were ripe for revolution, though the opportunity was missed. Rob Sewell explains the revolutionary potential displayed by the working class in Britain, the errors of their leadership, and the lessons of these experiences for the class struggle today, at a time when war, crisis and chaos are similarly rampant. This article first appeared in issue 30 of In Defence of Marxism, the theoretical magazine of the International Marxist Tendency. Click here to subscribe and get the latest issue.

We publish here a document written in 2016 by the leadership of the IMT as part of a discussion about the role of imperialism today and the character of China and Russia. We think it can serve to clarify questions that have been raised in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech to the Russian nation yesterday, claimed that "Ukraine was created by Lenin." The truth is that the October Revolution had the great merit of liberating the nationalities that had been oppressed by Tsarist Russia, which Lenin called a "prison of the nations", and denied all rights to ethnic minorities. We present this letter from Lenin, written in 1919, which develops in a few pages the position of Marxism on the question of nationalities. Let Lenin speak!

50 years ago, on Sunday 30 January 1972, the British Army opened fire on a peaceful civil rights march in Derry in the North of Ireland. 14 innocent people were killed in an atrocity. For decades, the British ruling class attempted to cover up the atrocity. When British troops were sent into Ireland in 1969, some mistakenly believed they were there to bring peace.

At this festive time of year, we share the following lead off by Alan Woods on the origins of Christianity, which provides a Marxist answer to 2,000 years of myths, lies and distortions.

The question of violence is often posed as an abstract theoretical one. Pacifists cordon off the concept of ‘violence’ and treat it apart from every other aspect of human relations. But as the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz said: “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. Declaring opposition to violence ‘in general’ is as meaningless and utopian as declaring opposition to politics ‘in general’. We must be concrete. What kind of violence are we opposed to? And how do we struggle against it?

For hundreds of thousands of years human beings inhabited the Earth without private property, classes, states, or any of the other elements that make up class society as we know it. And yet we are taught that class division is a natural and universal condition of human existence. As Josh Holroyd and Laurie O’Connel explain in this article first published in the IMT’s theoretical journal, In Defence of Marxism, modern archaeology has produced a plethora of evidence attesting to the fact that the division of society into classes is a relatively recent development in human history. And just as it came into existence, Marxists understand it must eventually go out of existence. ...

The latest title from Wellred Books, The History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective by Alan Woods will be out in only a few days. We publish below an excerpt from the Introduction to the book, explaining why revolutionary Marxists should study the history of philosophy, and the enormous debt that Marxism owes to earlier thinkers, and in particular to the giants of philosophy that lived in the revolutionary, youthful phase of the bourgeois epoch.